CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Charlotte Hornets aren't waving a
white flag. But down two starters, they know winning won't be easy.
The Hornets battled back from 17 points down, then went cold in
the fourth quarter in an 82-79 loss to Boston on Tuesday night. It
was the Celtics' first two-game winning streak over Charlotte in
almost 10 years.
"We did as well as we could," Charlotte coach Paul Silas
shouted at reporters after the game. "Our shooters are out, I
can't manufacture 36 points a game. I can't wave a magic wand for
guys to become shooters who haven't been shooters their entire
The Hornets have been without Jamal Mashburn for all but nine
games this season with a strained abdominal muscle. But just as
word came down that Mashburn and his 20 points a game will be back
shortly after the All-Star break, shooting guard David Wesley broke
a bone in his left foot.
Wesley, who averages 15.9 points a game, was placed on the
injured list before the game and is expected to miss 3-to-4 weeks.
"Mash and D-Dub are my two perimeter shooters," Silas said.
"Take anybody's two best shooters away and they aren't going to
win games either."
But the Hornets had a chance in this one, rallying back to take
a 69-62 lead before missing 13 straight baskets to fall back into a
seven point hole they couldn't climb out of.
Paul Pierce scored 24 points, Antoine Walker added 19 and Eric
Williams had 15 for the Celtics, who last beat Charlotte twice in a
row during the 1992 season.
"We gutted it out tonight," Pierce said. "We screwed up a big
lead, but kept our composure and were able to execute down the
Baron Davis scored 28 points for the Hornets, including a
3-pointer with 4 seconds to play that cut the score to 81-79.
Pierce then hit one of two free throws to make it 82-79, but
Matt Bullard missed a 3 at the buzzer that would have tied the
Charlotte, which had its season-high three-game winning streak
snapped, fell back below .500 one game after reaching the mark for
the first time since early December.
In addition to going cold in the fourth quarter, Charlotte
opened the game slowly by missing 11 of 13 shots while falling into
a 20-4 hole. P.J. Brown ended the drought on a dunk and the Hornets
made seven straight baskets to close within 26-20.
Charlotte couldn't sustain the run through the second quarter,
falling behind 43-30 on Walker's 18-foot jumper, and trailed 45-38
But the shooting woes shifted to Boston in the second half.
While Charlotte opened the period with seven straight points to
tie the game, the Celtics missed seven straight baskets and didn't
get on the board until Kenny Anderson's tip almost five minutes in.
Pierce then hit a 3 to give Boston a five-point lead it
maintained until the waning moments of the third quarter when the
Hornets started a run that gave them their 69-62.
But they couldn't put the Celtics away and let them back into
the game with an 13-0 run.
Boston made three free throws -- one following a technical on
Silas -- and Strickland and Pierce hit 3-pointers in the run that
gave the Celtics a 75-69 lead with 3:47 to play.
"It was a gutsy win," Boston coach Jim O'Brien said. "We beat
a heck of a team and Charlotte will be tough to contend with in the
second half. I expect they'll be really strong when they get their
Game notes Boston's longest winning streak over Charlotte was five
straight stretching from the 1992-93 seasons. ... Tony Battie
picked a unique way to leave the game in the first quarter after
getting poked in the eye and losing his contact. He grabbed Bryce
Drew's jersey and pulled it up around his neck, drawing a foul and
getting the stop in play he needed to leave the floor. ... The
Hornets have not been above .500 since they were 2-1 on Nov. 3. ...
Magloire and Vitaly Potapenko were hit with a double technical for
rough play in the third quarter.